Embarking on any journey of conscious learning requires clarifying what is it that we are doing, why and how. As a yoga practitioner I am keenly aware of how important it is to be clear on my answers to these questions so that I have good reasons for doing what I am doing and also to make sure that I am doing what I think I am doing.
This is even more important to me as a teacher because I want to ensure that I have logical reasons for teaching what I teach. This is one of my major motivation to keep studying, that is, exploring, learning and, most importantly, putting into practice techniques that enhance the quality of my participation in my life. I continually reflect on these ideas to guide my practice, my teaching and my life. This manifesto is one way to communicate this as clearly and concisely as possible.
What is Yoga?
YOGA : You Organically Growing in Awareness
Yoga is Presence. Presence is attending to every unique here and now moment of your life. Being present is a choice that only you can make. As we attempt to be present we start noticing restrictions and inefficiencies that hinder our ability to participate consciously, deliberately and wholeheartedly in our lives.
Yoga is one path to grow in our awareness organically. Organically means that we explore our options for thoughts, feelings, movements, breathing and interaction in a gradual and sustainable manner. As we find limitations, obstacles and restrictions we make adjustments to move beyond our current levels of understanding. Slowly our growing awareness results in more harmonious relationships between our body, mind, emotions and breath. We can see our practice as a combination of Self-Awareness, Self-Care and Self-Regulation. As a result, we enhance the quality of our participation in our life and live a vibrant, meaningful and wholehearted existence.
How to practice yoga
SIMPLE: Self-Inquiry Modulate Propensities for Life Enrichment
In all endeavors it is tempting to keep making things more and more complex. We keep our yoga practice simple. Yoga is one way to know ourselves thoroughly. We start by engaging in self-inquiry. We pay attention to our inner world and to our participation in our life. We notice our tendencies, some helpful, some unhelpful, some conscious, some unconscious. We learn to modulate our propensities so that all our actions contribute to enrich our life.
8 Limbs of yoga
What is the intention for practicing each limb of yoga?
Yoga is a complete system to ensure that we show up to our life every day, at every moment. We show up with our mind and heart open. As we notice our tendencies to close our mind and heart, we regulate these tendencies in thought, action, movement, breath and interaction to bring integrity, harmony and grace into all that we do.
- We cultivate our capacity for kindness and compassion until, eventually, we learn to love life unconditionally. (yamas) This does not mean that we are passive or indifferent.
- We cultivate our gratitude and inspiration until we live in contentment. (niyamas) This does not mean that we become complacent.
- We enhance our natural capacity for moving consciously and deliberately without struggle, strain or self-judgment. (asana)
- We become exquisitely familiar with our breathing processes. (pranayama)
- We direct our senses masterfully. (pratyahara)
- We concentrate steadily. (dharana)
- We learn to remain effortlessly focused. (dhyana)
- We integrate all of our systems by releasing all that we think we are or should be. (samadhi)
How do we practice yoga?
We can choose to remember that:
- We are whole and complete. We are enough.
- We explore everything with playful curiosity to learn about all aspects of ourselves
- We release strain, struggle and self-judgment.
- When we move, we move consciously and deliberately.
- Clarify the foundation of our life, in mind, emotions , body and respiration.
- When we move, we engage gentle firmness around our joints specially when moving beyond our usual level of mobility.
- We avoid pinching, forcing or squashing, especially at our joints.
- We do the best we can without tension or agitation. We are clear on the difference between best and most.
- We distribute our actions throughout our whole body.
How to keep our yoga practice safe
What are some potential risks practitioners should be aware of?
Any activity, even walking, when done carelessly may increase the risk of injury.
Risk of injuries increase when you:
- Hold your breath
- Squash your joints
- Pinch at joints
- Move with momentum instead of control
- Move mostly from a single joint
How can yoga practitioners avoid injuries?
- We know what we are doing and why
- We pay close attention to our sensations
- We learn to distinguish tolerable discomfort from pain
- We breathe comfortably
- We move with control
- We clarify how much is enough
- We choose our level of muscular engagement intelligently
- We remain relaxed throughout the practice in body, breath, mind and emotion
- We smile and enjoy our practice
How can practitioners know if their practice is working?
- During the practice we feel our whole body active
- We notice our body warming up evenly without agitation
- After practice we feel refreshed, relaxed AND energized
- We feel more kindness, gratitude, compassion and love
I hope that these ideas contribute to enhance your approach to your personal yoga practice.
Simple guided meditation with Rubén